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Grey Area is an ongoing collaborative project between London-based artist, Clare Parfree and lecturer and writer James Thurgill.

The project aims to survey the folkloric landscape(s) of wyrd England, producing a set of mixed methodological and deep topological examinations of the marginal sites that purport an extra-sensory engagement with place. Grey Area combines the practices of drawing, photography, nature and site-writing, working at the intersections of cultural geography, field archaeology, and fine art to produce deep, multi layered readings of place. We’re interested in creating conversations with place(s), allowing sites of a strange and folkloric significance to speak through our work. As such, Grey Area will work to reveal and respond to sites that provoke the Fortean imagination. The project will interrogate those areas that work to coerce, distort or disturb the imagination; working across spectral, marginal and borderland spaces, Grey Area responds to the strange and often frightening experiences that we have in the ‘anomalous’ locations associated with these peripheral areas.

Grey Area will result in at least one publication of original writings and drawings from the authors, as well as supporting an exhibition of the artwork and photography created in response to the sites that we visit. Later, a symposium will be organised so as to create a platform for our work and the research of others with interest in the area(s) to speak to and expand discussions on marginal and enchanted geographies.  Furthermore, we plan to use this blog as a way of documenting the sites we visit, providing windows into the ongoing production of text and image that is created as the project develops. The output of the project is intentionally multifaceted so as to serve a wider audience. Grey Area should speak both to and beyond the academy; we want to engage in a widened debate that welcomes artists and practitioners, writers, researchers, students and moreover, anyone with an interest in the subjects we examine in this project.

The history of the project is brief. Grey Area began in the spring of 2014, having completed his doctoral thesis on the affective geographies of absence, James began looking for new ways to pursue his interest in place, folklore and creative practice. The search coincided with the final months of Clare’s MA in Fine Art, where her ongoing practice responded to and investigated the spatial relations between animals, landscape and mythology. Already aware of each other’s work, discussions of collaboration and possible projects came naturally and the two were quick to establish a set of mutual strands of interest.  By mid-summer the project was beginning to take shape a number of preliminary site visits had taken place. The project took a brief hiatus over the autumn to allow for various external commitments to be met and naturally there was little progress to be made over the winter months – the cold does little to get the creative juices flowing. Flash forward to 2015 and we are finally ready to begin unveiling the project to an audience. Over the coming months we will document site visits, artworks in progress, photography, poetry and essays,  tentatively setting out a trajectory for the publication of the project.

Thanks, J and C

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